Trade Development Talks with Europe

This is the month that has seen the start in some potentially historic meetings taking place in Morocco.  The topic under discussion is a free trade deal and the participants include representatives from the EU and the North African Nations.

THe discussions have come with a growing realisation by both sides that economic development is essential to maintain stabillity in the region.  One of the major factors behind the Arab uprisings was economic problems.  The first step to this is a hopefully ground breaking agreement for free trade between the EU member nations and Morocco.  This is the first step in the EU strategy.

moroccopicture

King Mohammed VI in Morocco was one of the few Arab leaders who dealt successfully with the Arab spring.  He managed to defuse the growing protests in Morocco by announcing both constitutional change and holding an election that voted in an Islamic led government.

Morocco is one of the biggest beneficiaries of European aid, receiving over 500 million Euros between 2011 and 2013.  the establishment of a free trade agreement recognises the large amount of trade that already exists between the two areas.  The European Council hopes that this agreement will lead to similar ones with Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.

Trade between the Euro nations and Morocco is expected to continue to grow approximately 5% each year.  THe African nation mainly exports clothing, machinery and a variety of agricultural products to the Union.

It is also hoped that it will help Morocco become a more moderate and open society.  It is considered one of the most liberal Islamic nations in Africa but there still is a very restrictive society for those who are non-muslims.  Many people still leave the country because of the tight restrictions and fear of reprisals if they do not comform to the strict Islamic ideals.  There is still many filters and blocks through internet access and many people utilise VPNs and security servers to speak freely.  Many bloggers for example rely on servers like German proxies like these – http://thenewproxies.com/german-proxy/. Mainly because it is a country which protects anonymity online and has extremely strong privacy laws which it actively enforces.

Joe Simpson